BY: Abraham Daljang Maker, Kampala, Uganda, JAN/30/2013, SSN;
It has been a while without writing any piece because the situation in South Sudan is not favoring us journalists. However, the dire situation in Lakes state has forced me to break the silence at last so that I can speak up and see if my opinion can make some sense in the minds of the readers, the politicians and policy makers.
The question as to where does the Lakes state belong can be answered in various ways by different people in all walks of life, but to me, Lakes state does not only belong to Lakers alone as you may think. It belongs to all the ten states of South Sudan, to you and me; amazingly, it also belongs to Kenyans, Ugandans, Tanzanians and Congolese.
Ask why and I can tell you that all those people that I have mentioned reside in that state and anything that affects it also affects all of them as well. As the saying goes, “what affects the eyes also affects the nose.”
That means, any slight effect in one of the ten states in South Sudan is affecting the entire country. We should therefore be careful so that if anything goes wrong in one state, we should raise our voices and efforts to reach in to the solution to that problem.
The event which unfolded on Friday 18 January 2013 in Rumbek town has prompted me to open my mouth and tell everyone that something is wrong in the entire country not only in Lakes state, it should be addressed before it leads to incurable cancer. The gun battle between the two clans in Rumbek center was not a minor problem as one can imagine.
Women, children and the elderly were horrified and alarmed, they were running helplessly as the so-called cattle keepers were shooting themselves among these vulnerable people. The whole atmosphere was engulfed with fear, anxiety and insecurity; it was not at all different from those days when we were still in the war.
As a journalist who loves the career and who does not want to talk of what I have not witnessed, I personally followed the soldiers to the battlefield where they were separating the warring factions. That was a dreadful risk I have ever taken because I would have been caught up by cross fire; but I had to see it so that I can tell it all.
I could not believe that these men were not even scared to see soldiers as it is supposed to be, instead they were determined to pursued their fighting despite the efforts of the soldiers to separate them, they were totally wild.
These armed cattle keepers are very dangerous not only to themselves but also to the national army. Some soldiers were wounded by them, a few days before the fighting in Rumbek; there was a report that seven soldiers were killed in Cueibet County of lakes state by the armed youth.
A report on Sudan tribune stated that unidentified gunmen lurk in teak plantation in Rumbek east and attacked soldiers leading to the loss of lives. Having seen all these, I would suggest that the both the state authority and national government should take this as a great concern to curb such crime in the country.
Seeing it as a state crisis or an issue that can be addressed by the state government alone is a terrible mistake. Comprehensive disarmament should be done with a collective effort form the two governments, I believe that disarmament was done long time but surprisingly, they are still having guns, meaning that there is a loophole somewhere where they get these machines, AK47 are not manufactured in cattle camps, not even in the whole country but you find that they [youths] still have them despite the disarmament.
This therefore calls for a serious investigation to find out who sales these guns back to them. There is also a need for the government and the NGOs to give these youth sensitization messages after they are all disarmed not only in lakes state but in other states where such vices are done, changing their mindset to developmental program will reduce such criminal acts.
There are always a lot of accusing fingers pointing toward the state government when such things occur, but I think we all have a role to play in order to stop these activities, the youth organizations like Lakes state youth union and Rumbek youth union have to regularly talk with these idle youths and remind them that fighting is not good for development.
Paramount chiefs and council of elders plus the state government and national government should work hard to make sure that there is a peace and tranquility in all the ten sates of South Sudan. Our main aim as a new nation is to have a constructive development but not destructive.
We have a lot of things to do as a country but if we keep on killing, thieving, corrupting, and divided then we shall not achieve what we our target. Let’s not prove to “our brothers” who were saying that South Sudanese cannot govern themselves, if they are be granted their autonomy.
Let’s show to the whole world that we value the freedom that we fought for; by focusing on developmental programs. Let’s not forget God who gave us freedom because God is love and if we love ourselves and support each other in times of happiness and crisis, then we shall thrive on well. United, we stand, divided we fall.
The writer holds Bachelor of Science in journalism from Nkumba University and he is pursuing Master of Arts in development studies from the same University.
Abraham Daljang Maker.
pursuing MA in development studies, Nkumba University
Bachelor of science in Journalism,
Nkumba University, PO Box 237 Entebbe Uganda.